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`Frozen’s’ Idina Menzel Lifts `If/Then’ Cast Album To Smashing Billboard Debut

By | Wednesday June 11, 2014 @ 3:30pm PDT

Idina MenzelIdina Menzel continues to show star-power, with the release of the original Broadway cast album of If/Then opening on the Billboard 200 chart at number 19. It’s the best debut since the release of the cast album of Rent in 1996 — which also starred Menzel. That Pulitzer Prize-winning show also debuted at number 19, though the comparative numbers are revealing bout the state of the music industry: Rent sold 43,000 albums to achieve that number, while If/Then had to move only 15,000 units to achieve the same ranking, for the week ending June 8, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Menzel, the voice of Elsa and the hit song “Let It Go” from Disney‘s blockbuster Frozen, was a Tony nominee for If/Then  (as she was for Rent) and won a huge following for her Tony-winning portrayal of green-visaged Elphaba in the original 2004 Broadway cast of Wicked (and that time, she won the Tony). The soundtrack to Frozen remains 2014′s top-selling album, with 2.6 million sold this year, of its 2.9 million to date according to Billboard.

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Tony Watch: First, Kill All The Nominators – Plus: Eric Bogosian’s Master Class; Opera’s Latest Tempest

By | Friday May 23, 2014 @ 4:38pm PDT
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Too Ambitious For Tonys?

Deadline's chief theater columnist Jeremy Gerard discusses why he believes 'If/Then' was overlooked by Tony nominators.

GerardColumn_badgeUPDATE: On the subject of Violet as revival (see below). If/Then should have received a Tony nomination for Best Musical. Sure, it’s thankless to parse the politics, prejudices and caprice of the process by which Broadway shows are deemed eligible by the Tony Administration Committee (Violet Idina-Menzel-in-If-Then-photo-by-Joan-Marcus-0299r__140523175200-275x183is a revival?) and then competitors by the Nominating Committee. And I run the risk of looking like a booster by emphasizing one major omission over others, but the truth is, I have no dog in this hunt other than -– OK, I’ll say it -– an ethical one. The Nominators went out of their way to snub the Broadway season’s most original new show, rubbing salt in the wound by leaving blank a slot in the Best Musical category. So the score (by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey) and star (Idina Menzel) of If/Then were deemed nomination-worthy, but not the show itself. Wait, what?

First, a word about Violet. I’ve pointed out a couple of times that its nomination for best musical revival strikes me as odd, if not punitive, and a number of readers have called me wrong (and worse) on this point. If Violet was eligible in the Best Musical category, they say, then Hedwig And The Angry Inch should have been eligible as well, since both shows previously ran off-Broadway. True fact, uneasy logic. Hedwig opened off-Broadway in February, 1998 and ran for 857 performances before closing more than two years later. It was a huge hit. Violet, by comparison, opened at Playwrights Horizons in March, 1997 and closed three weeks later. It’s not a classic and, to all intents and purposes, it’s essentially new to New York. I’d have argued to bend the rules, and damn the complainers. It would hardly have been the first time the Tony rules were jiggered to accommodate the peculiarities of a season.

I caught up with If/Then this week and personally, I think there should have been separate nominations for Idina Menzel and her mouth, the most arrestingly expressive lips this side of Sandra Bernhardt. That aside, I didn’t love the show, for reasons well-rehearsed elsewhere, mostly having to do with its confusing dual storyline. But guess what? Tell me the plot of The Magic Flute or Arcadia in 50 words or less and you get the Cracker Jack prize. Confusing is hardly the worst offense in art.
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Broadway B.O.: Idina Menzel’s Star Power; Fred Zollo’s Photographic Memory

By | Tuesday May 13, 2014 @ 2:37pm PDT

IfThenBlogger-producer Ken Davenport recently dropped a few compelling statistics about original-versus-adapted musicals on Broadway (OK, they’re only compelling if you haven’t been paying attention, but collectively, the numbers are still startling): Over the past 30 years, 82% of the new tuners on Broadway were adapted from movies and/or books or other material. Only 18% were original. About the same percentage — 83% — took the Best Musical Tony Award. And one-third of the original musicals (this season’s sole example, if you include original music, being If/Then, which was passed over for a Best Musical nomination) ran less than a month.

Related: Broadway Box Office Slips Again; ‘Hedwig’, ‘Raisin’ SRO

Celebrities Visit "Late Show With David Letterman" - May 8, 2014If/Then already has beaten those odds, while demonstrating that being a genuine, Broadway-minted star can still mean green at the box office. The reviews for If/Then, about a woman who experiences the divergent paths her life might have taken given certain choices, were all over the place. But I don’t recall anything but raves for Idina Menzel‘s performance in the leading role. Rent made her a star, Wicked made her a supernova, and one can surmise that all the girls who went — and went back again — to that show to relive the triumph of Elphaba are now young women who, as with the stars of an earlier time, feel they’ve grown up with their heroine. Judy Garland of course comes to mind, and Elizabeth Taylor and, to be Broadway specific, Patty Duke. I’m certain you can remind me of others.

If/Then, at the 1,311-seat Richard Rodgers Theatre, continues to take in more then $1 million per week at the box office — very close to its gross potential of $1.3 million — and has a respectable average ticket price of $106.48. A Tony win for Menzel’s performance (or for Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s score, for that matter) may not confer the prestige or long-term financial bump of a Best Musical win, but it will help keep the show in the public eye. And give producer David Stone and his partners a slightly better chance to see a return on their $10 million investment (beyond, that is, the satisfaction that in a business where both imitation and failure are the rule, they accomplished something extraordinary). Read More »

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UPDATE: ‘Frozen’s Best Song Winner “Let It Go” Gets Jimmy Fallon Treatment After Oscar Win (Video)

By | Tuesday March 4, 2014 @ 4:33pm PST

UPDATE, 4:33 PM: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon has done its part to contribute to the wild viral video run of Frozen‘s Best Song Oscar winner “Let It Go”. YouTube is hosting countless versions that are getting millions and millions of hits, and now there’s this one from last night that has Idina Menzel contributing to Fallon’s take featuring kids instruments like the kazoo and toy blocks courtesy of house band The Roots. Check it out:

Read More »

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John Travolta Beats Himself Up For His Botched Idina Menzel Oscar Intro

By | Tuesday March 4, 2014 @ 2:53pm PST
Mike Fleming

idiJohn Travolta has had his good moments in front of a crowd, but his mispronunciation of Idina Menzel‘s name at the Oscars wasn’t his best moment. He gets it and is only too happy to pile on along with everyone else. ”I’ve been beating myself up all day,” Travolta says. “Then I thought…what would Idina Menzel say, She’d say, Let it go, let it go! Idina is incredibly talented and I am so happy Frozen took home two Oscars Sunday night!”

No worry, John. People will have a hard time remembering who won in a couple weeks. At least the memory of you, Idina, and Liza Minnelli, will linger.

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OSCARS: Idina Menzel To Perform ‘Let It Go’ From ‘Frozen’

By | Tuesday February 11, 2014 @ 6:23am PST
Mike Fleming

menzOscarcast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have set Idina Menzel to perform for the first time on live TV Frozen‘s “Let It Go”. The tune is nominated for Original Song. It is up against a small field of tunes: the Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” from Despicable Me 2, U2‘s “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom and Karen O’s “The Moon Song” from Her. You don’t have to wonder if Menzel will lip synch as happened in the Super Bowl. Menzel, who won a Tony for Wicked, can belt it.

Related: OSCARS: ‘Frozen’ Brings Its Best Song Contender To The Concert Stage

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OSCARS: ‘Frozen’ Brings Its Best Song Contender To The Concert Stage While Rescinded Nominee ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ Still Won’t ‘Let It Go’

By | Monday February 10, 2014 @ 10:18am PST
Pete Hammond

“There’s not one single Academy member invited to this event tonight,” a Disney executive proudly told me before the studio’sFrozen-Sing-a-long1-767x1024 live concert of the music from their smash animated Oscar contender Frozen began Sunday evening at Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Jazz Club in L.A. Now that’s not normally the kind of thing you hear during awards season. Usually studios beg and cajole Oscar voters to show up to these kinds of things. For instance, Disney staged another memorable musical event in December for Saving Mr. Banks with a concert by Mary Poppins composer Richard M. Sherman at the Polo Lounge. That one was crawling with invited Academy members. But that also took place before nominations. Much stricter AMPAS guidelines for campaigning after nominations are announced mean all these kinds of events, lunches, parties, meet-and-greets with contenders, etc., are verboten, and a violation of those guidelines can mean loss of tickets or stronger repercussions from the Academy.

frozen10So this special evening was limited to Disney execs, Frozen creatives like directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, producer Peter  Del Vecho, composer Christophe Beck, songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and executive producer and Disney Animation chief John Lasseter along with the press. Lots of press who can spread the word about the phenomenal success of Frozen just a few days before those ballots go into the mail to Oscar voters who — did I say this? – weren’t invited. Read More »

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Hot Clip: Disney’s ‘Frozen’ Oscar Hopeful ‘Let It Go’ – Best Song Frontrunner?

By | Saturday December 7, 2013 @ 3:06pm PST

With box office momentum behind their wintry animated hit Frozen, Disney has released a clip featuring Best Song Oscar hopeful “Let It Go,” by songwriting team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Idina Menzel belts the number voicing Elsa, the Snow Queen whose super powers put her kingdom in peril in the pic also starring Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, and Josh Gad:

Related: BOX OFFICE: ‘Frozen’ ‘Catching Fire’ Amid Nation’s Ice Storm

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Idina Menzel To Return To ‘Glee’ Next Season For Big Arc

By | Friday July 15, 2011 @ 7:42pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Rachel Berry’s mom is back. Tony Award winner Idina Menzel is in final negotiations to return to Fox’s musical dramedy Glee in the upcoming third season for a major arc that could span as many as 10-12 episodes. In what is described the only significant cast addition on the show next season, Menzel will reprise her role as Rachel Berry’s (Lea Michele) biological mother Shelby Corcoran, which she originated in 5 episodes of Glee‘s first season. Back then, Shelby was the coach of New Directions’ rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline. She tried to bond with Rachel after Rachel found out that she was her mother but ultimately left town after adopting Quinn and Puck’s baby girl. Next season will see Shelby returning from New York to Ohio to join William McKinley High School as a new teacher and complicating things for Rachel as well as former flame Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison). “I’m really excited the that Idina is joining the family again,” said Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy. “We missed her last year and we’re happy that she is coming back.”

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White House To Celebrate Broadway

white_houseThe White House has just announced that next Monday WETA is taping for broadcast on PBS on October 20th “A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House” featuring performances by major Broadway artists and new talent presenting selections from American musicals. The evening will include Nathan Lane, Idina Menzel, Brian d’Arcy James, Audra McDonald, Chad Kimball, Marvin Hamlisch, Karen Olivo, Assata Alston and a youth ensemble from the Joy of Motion Dance Center. This is a continuation of the “In Performance at the White House” series.

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